Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The latest skinny on California DUI Ignition Interlock Device Legislation

California DUI lawyers are hearing again about Mothers Against Drunk Driving. MADD uses extensive efforts to pass a bill that would require something more – that ignition interlock devices be installed on cars owned or operated by convicted drunken drivers, including first-time California DUI / drunk driver offenders. These are small breath alcohol testing devices that can be affixed to a vehicle's steering column. A driver blows into the California DUI device to demonstrate he or she has no alcohol in his or her system. If it detects alcohol, the vehicle will not start.

Under current law, judges in California are free to require convicted California DUI / drunk drivers. Assembly Bill 91 by Los Angeles Democrat Mike Feuer would establish a pilot program that would make the devices mandatory for all first-time DUI convictions in five counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento and San Diego.

203,866 California DUI / drunk drivers were arrested in California in 2007, on average more than 558 per day. California DUI / drunk driver were involved in more than 53,000 collisions in which 1,501 people were killed. Given the prevalence of drunken driving in this state and the deadly consequences, Feuer's pilot project study advocated even though studies of the devices' effectiveness in deterring repeat DUIs is mixed.

A 1998 Department of Motor Vehicles study of interlocking ignition devices concluded that they "are not effective in reducing DUI convictions or incidents for first-time DUI offenders." Yet the study suggested that they could be effective for repeat drunken drivers under certain circumstances.

Second-time California DUI / drunk driver offenders who serve half of their sentence suspension period and install the device in order to obtain a restricted driver's license have a lower risk of DUI recidivism than their counterparts who remain suspended, some guess.

Proof of whether interlocks are effective or not is unknown. So it's to early to endorse mandatory devices for every convicted California DUI / drunk driver.